New Class of Eugene McDermott
Scholars Selected at UT Dallas

May 16, 2007

The Eugene McDermott Scholars Program at The University of Texas at Dallas, which provides full scholarships and unique cultural and civic opportunities to academically talented high school students, has selected 14 men and women who will make up its 2007 class.

The latest class of McDermott Scholars, made up of seven women and seven men, includes six valedictorians and one salutatorian and boasts an average SAT score of 2180 out of 2400.  Collectively, the students are in the top 1.6 percent of their high school classes and hail from Canada, Mexico and four states, including Texas. 

As McDermott Scholars, the students will have all of their educational expenses — including travel, housing and books — covered for the next four years and will participate in a wide variety of artistic and educational experiences. 

During their tenure at UT Dallas, they will go on an orientation trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico, visit the nation’s capital and have opportunities to study abroad, as well as the chance to apply for internships at prominent corporations, government offices and research institutions. 

Many members of the new class are athletes and participate in such sports as tennis, soccer, volleyball, golf and kayak racing, among others.  Included in the assemblage are musicians, writers and a filmmaker; several are members of the National Honor Society, and a number of the students are multi-lingual. 

The students are as academically talented as they are diverse.  Some of the majors they have selected are neuroscience, biology, engineering, government, physics and the humanities.  The group also includes aspiring engineers, physicians and attorneys.

Dr. Charles W. Leonard, director of the innovative program said selecting a new class of McDermott Scholars is a tough process, but it is always an enlightening experience. 

“When recruiting and selecting students of this caliber, we are, quite literally, competing with the likes of Stanford and the Ivy League universities,” Leonard said.  “We never forget that these outstanding young people, and hundreds of others on our campus who are just as good, chose UT Dallas from among better-known schools.  The successes of our alumni and the experiences of our current students suggest to us that our 14 new scholars have made a good choice.”

The McDermott Scholars Program was made possible in 2000 by a $32 million gift from Mrs. Margaret McDermott, wife of the late Eugene McDermott, one of the co-founders of Texas Instruments.  McDermott and two of his TI co-founders, Cecil Green and Erik Jonsson, both of whom also are deceased, founded the research institution that in 1969 became UT Dallas. 

Those selected as McDermott Scholars for the 2007 entering class are:


Mackenzie Hird, Luther College, Regina, Saskatchewan

Mac is a German speaker, class valedictorian, an award-winning canoe kayak racer and vice-president of student government.  He is a member of both the math club and the improv team.  Mac is undecided on a major.


Alex Garcia, Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Speriores de Monterrey, Tampico, Tamaulipas

Alex is the valedictorian of his class and volunteers at a local television station.  He is a filmmaker and playwright and has staged two plays; his writing won him the Jules Verne Award in 2006 for the best essay about science fiction.  Alex plans to major in the humanities.


Christina Wolfe, Chandler High School, Chandler

Christina is a captain of her school’s marching band and has lettered in golf for the past four years.  She is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist and an avid baseball and softball player.  Christina plans to major in engineering.


Devarati Das, Metro Academic and Classical Academy, St. Louis

Devarati is head of her school’s Model United Nations team, a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist and a member of the soccer team.  She volunteers in the emergency room of Missouri Baptist Hospital and performs with a Kuchipudi dance troupe.  Devarati plans to major in biology and to pursue a career in medicine.


Grace Bielawski, Booker T. Washington High School, Tulsa

Grace plays the violin in her school’s orchestra. She is activities coordinator for the Key Club and co-president of the National Honor Society.  Grace is undecided on a major, but hopes to pursue a career in law or journalism.



Lewis Chang, James Bowie High School

Lewis, a National Merit Scholar finalist, has volunteered at St. David’s Hospital since the 7th grade, for a total of more than 500 hours.  He is Bowie’s valedictorian, class president and homecoming king.  Lewis plans to major in the sciences.


Mary Gurak, Denison High School

Mary, Denison’s salutatorian, has played volleyball since she was five and is captain of her school’s team; she is also vice president of the student council.  For the past three years, she has volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club.  Mary plans to major in the computer or mathematical sciences.

Flower Mound

James Frank, Coram Deo Academy

James is an award-winning member of his school’s debate team and is an Eagle Scout.  He developed a database system and online user interface for managing the records of his school.  James plans to major in engineering or physics.


Chanel Matney, Centennial High School

Chanel plays the bass drum and the flute, and has been a class representative on the student council.  She has participated in her school’s Spanish and spirit clubs.  Chanel plans to major in neuroscience and hopes to pursue a career in medicine.


Dina Shahrokhi, Cypress Creek High School

Dina is an award-winning figure skater as well as a jazz and ballet dancer.  She is valedictorian and is a tutor at the math lab of a local community college.  She plans to do undergraduate work in math and psychology and eventually hopes to become an attorney.

Jake Wurzer, Strake Jesuit College Preparatory

Jake is co-founder and president of his school’s engineering team as well as the founder of his school’s chess team.  He has volunteered at his local public library for the past six years.  Jake is currently undecided on a major.


Kenny Gray, Cinco Ranch High School

Kenny received a full scholarship to attend the Advance Program for Young Scholars at Northwestern University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.  He is a National Merit Scholar Semifinalist and studies both Latin and Japanese.  Kenny plans to major in computer science and hopes to learn Chinese.

Three Rivers

Brady Spenrath, Three Rivers High School

Brady is president of his school’s chapter of the National Honor Society and drum major of the marching band.  He plays on the tennis team, is a parliamentarian in the student council and is district champion of the debate team.  Brady plans to major in electrical engineering.


Alice Post, Robert E. Lee High School

Alice is president of both the debate club and the art club.  She volunteers at Tyler’s Teen Court, where she was voted best all-around attorney.  She is a member of the Campanella Handbell Choir and valedictorian of her class.  Alice is undecided on a major but hopes to attend law school and to eventually pursue a career in foreign services.

About UT Dallas

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 14,500 students.  The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores.  The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs.  For additional information about UT Dallas, please visit the university’s website at

Contact Jenni Huffenberger, UT Dallas, (972) 883-4431, [email protected]

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April 27, 2018